Back in the ’80s, there was a very specific subculture dominated by those who worshiped at the altar of Luke and Laura and press-on nails. Way before the advent of realistic looking acrylic nails or even gel or powder manicures, Lee Press-On Nails could transform even chewed-raw nails into talons worthy of a Barbra Streisand nod of approval.
I remember an older neighbor named Carol showing off her collection of Lee Press On Nails saved for dates and special occasions. I found myself fascinated by the perfect plastic ovals that stuck to her fingertips and transformed her from cashier at Key Food to glamorous teen. Clearly, I was mistaken because the reality was that her nails looked fake and tended to come off mid-gesture, so that you never knew if her nails would end up stuck to her hair or food.
In recent years, some press-on nails have given way to “Pop on nails” perhaps taking a page from beauty culture’s obsession with “pops of color” or shopping culture’s “pop-up shops.” No matter the inspiration, the newer generation of stick on nails come in more realistic shapes with highly stylized finishes that mimic the best of nail art. On Etsy, press on nail companies have sprung up like manicure-friendly mushrooms with everything from matte lip inspired coffin shaped nails, to sure to be Cardi B approved heavily jeweled stick ons. Is it all gimicky? Sure it is. But it’s also fun. Nail art has lasted a lot longer than many industry experts (including myself) anticipated and press on nails might just be another manicure trend that’s pretty much here to stay.